Many small companies recognise that they need media and marketing support, but do not always have the time or money to develop these plans or produce the media to support their businesses. For entrepreneur Lucilla Blankenberg and her company Off the Ground Media, she is not only providing a great solution, but creating a company that makes a difference to the lives of others at the same time through those efforts.
LoA chatted to founder Lucilla Blankenberg this month to learn more about this media company with a difference.
What does your company do?
Off the Ground Media produces all forms of media including television, radio, print, outdoor and campaign management and development. Our team of top-class media experts will seamlessly integrate into your marketing plan at any point in the marketing process. We leverage our network of reliable suppliers to ensure you reach your objectives effectively and efficiently. Off the Ground Media is a Level 3 BEE compliant company (with CMT being Level 1, 100% BEE compliant).
"Whether you need a new brand developed or tested, a marketing campaign developed and implemented, or any form of media produced, Off the Ground is able to deliver."
What inspired you to start your company?
Off the Ground Media (OTGM) is owned by a not-for-profit company called Community Media Trust (CMT). In 1998 a group of activists believed that the HIV/AIDS epidemic was reaching a crucial stage as the epidemic began to move from a stage of high rates of infection to high rates of illness and death. As the epidemic became more visible, the idea was born of taking simplified scientific information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS to a broad audience through television. Thus, Siyayinqoba our flagship health brand and Community Media Trust (CMT) were born. CMT has since grown to include production of all forms of media specialising in communication on health, gender-based violence and social justice. CMT also trains young people interested in media and runs an independent online news site called GroundUp, which focuses on news which is often not the focus of mainstream media. Over the years, funding has reduced for our work and CMT has had to find new and innovative ways to be sustainable. This led to formation of Off the Ground Media. I have been with CMT since 2001 and have helped develop the organisation. I worked my way up to the position of Executive director. I am now embarking on a new journey to make CMT more sustainable by offering our extensive media services and experience to the corporate sector. All profits from Off the Ground Media are filtered back to CMT to help fund ever increasing core costs, and keep CMT able to do the important work that it does.
Why should anyone use your service or product?
Whether you need a new brand developed or tested, a marketing campaign developed and implemented, or any form of media produced, Off the Ground is able to deliver. We are keen on aiding small businesses develop and grow, and we offer personalised service and attention. All of our media production is done in house using a core team of experienced media experts. Off the Ground specialises in television and radio, but we are able to deliver on any form of media production, including social media campaign management. We understand that small companies require media and marketing, but do not always have the time or money to develop these plans or produce the media - this is where Off the Ground Media can assist, because we are able to work on small campaigns and media productions, as well as large ones.
"We are keen on aiding small businesses develop and grow, and we offer personalised service and attention."
Tell us a little about your team
We love what we do. The team is made up of script writers, producers, directors and production managers with many years of experience delivering well-produced media and developed messaging and communication to the desired target audience. We are collaborative and passionate about our work. I am proud to be part of such a strong force of loyal, dedicated people at Off the Ground.
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
I started my own production company at age 23, it was called, Media Mogirl (laugh it's ok). I took out a loan and bought an edit suite and a camera, I had a phone line put into my mother's house under the Media Mogirl name, and I made business cards by hand. I was ready to go! I made one music video and one infomercial, and one corporate video, they were all terrible. I started working at CMT in 2001 transcribing footage and adding in timecode, I then learned to edit and shoot and worked in all of the video productions at both CMT and it's subsidiary company called Idol Pictures. Idol Pictures made me a partner in 2003, taking over my equipment and buying out Media Mogirl. I have since worked for CMT, in many roles learning and changing positions so that I could understand every single part of media production. I am now Executive Director of CMT and have produced and directed many series and documentaries including prime time drama on our national broadcaster, and award winning documentaries on women, violence and the law. Off the Ground Media is my new adventure and I can't wait to work in a new sector. I studied communications, but I would say yes, I do have an entrepreneurial background because I have started more than one company and continue to learn and understand business and risk. I am determined to never give up.
"We understand that small companies require media and marketing, but do not always have the time or money to develop these plans or produce the media - this is where Off the Ground Media can assist, because we are able to work on small campaigns and media productions, as well as large ones."
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
I would like to see Off the Ground Media create a niche in the media market in South Africa, and deliver high quality media and communication to small businesses. I would also like it to do well in it's goal of helping to sustain the not-for-profit company CMT.
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
The opportunity to see an idea change and grow from inception to completion is a privilege.
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
There is no such thing as failure, only learning for next time.
Contact or follow Off the Ground Media
Why LoA loves it….
There is nothing quite as powerful as seeing a woman entrepreneur taking her passion for making a difference and combining it with her professional skills and years of experience, to make a huge impact on the lives and businesses of others. In the case of Lucilla Blankenberg, she is embarking on a new journey to create sustainable solutions that can positively impact the lives of others by developing an extensive range of media services and experience to the corporate sector. Her approach really is harnessing the power of the media to make a huge impact. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and editor-in-chief of Lionesses of Africa